False Friends of Objectivism

In early 2004, I ended my ten-year involvement with and support of The Objectivist Center (TOC). I explained my basic practical and philosophic objections to their approach to Objectivism in a public statement published on February 20th, 2004. In the years since then, my objections to the organization and its founding philosophy have grown wider and deeper, as the blog entries listed below show.

Of particular interest are two essays on the open system (Ayn Rand on David Kelley and The Open System, One More Time) and two essays on moral judgment (David Kelley Versus Ayn Rand on Kant and David Kelley's Mind-Body Dichotomy in Moral Judgment). Also, Paul's essay The Fable of the Cardiac Surgeon helps clarify the wrong of involvement in the libertarian movement.

In the spring of 2004, I also reconsidered my basic judgment of Nathaniel and Barbara Branden, two former associates of Ayn Rand. (Although I never held Barbara Branden in high esteem, I was Nathaniel Branden's webmaster for many years. We had a sometimes-friendly, sometimes-strained professional relationship. More details can be found in My History with Nathaniel and Barbara Branden.) Upon reviewing some of their writings on Ayn Rand and Objectivism, I concluded that their major criticisms of Ayn Rand and Objectivism are so completely devoid of merit as to be obviously motivated by hatred and revenge rather than any honest commitment to facts. My blog post of August 10th announced that basic judgment; other posts on the Brandens are listed below. Of particular interest are Nathaniel Branden Versus Objectivism and Nathaniel Branden's Campaign Against Objective Moral Judgment.

NoodleFood Commentaries

A Public Statement – The announcement of my disassociation from The Objectivist Center. Posted on 20 February 2004.

Compare and Contrast – A comparison of TOC and ARI op-eds on similar subjects. Posted on 26 March 2004.

Selective Quotation, Damage, and Regrets – A comment on the very limited nature of my regret about disassociating from The Objectivist Center. Posted on 29 March 2004.

Ayn Rand: Bourgeois Individualist ?!? – A discussion of Roger Donway's Navigator article "Fortress Americanism," including Adam Reed's sharp criticism of it. Posted on 23 April 2004.

Frenzied Denunciations – Some comments on standard misconceptions about the closed system view of Objectivism and common criticisms of the Ayn Rand Institute. Posted on 24 April 2004.

Friends and Philosophy – A post on the small brouhaha over Noumenal Self removing comments on his blog. Posted on 17 April 2004.

From Blushing to Error – A response to some praise of my writing, as well as a discussion of my attitude towards error and its impact on my departure from The Objectivist Center.

Questions and Comments on the Closed System – Some preliminary thoughts and questions on the view that Objectivism is a closed system. Posted on 21 April 2004.

A Twice Baked Heretic – A response to Noumenal Self's comments on my disassociation from The Objectivist Center, including a bit of history on my original decision to side with David Kelley. Posted on 14 April 2004.

Clarifying My View of TOC – A clarification of my view that The Objectivist Center is not an organization capable of meaningful reform due to deep philosophic corruption. Posted on 28 July 2004.

Documents, Sanction, and Confusion – A response to the charge that Leonard Peikoff (or his supporters) ought to have responded to David Kelley's monograph, Truth and Toleration, as well as a lengthy commentary of Kelley's pragmatic view of moral sanction. Posted on 1 August 2004.

A New Low for The Objectivist Center – A quick comment on Ed Hudgins' scheduled debate with an explicitly subjectivist libertarian. Posted on 6 August 2004.

The Fable of the Cardiac Surgeon and the Organization of Health Practitioners or Why I Don't Support Libertarian Organizations (at least not any more) – Essay explaining why speaking to libertarian organizations is granting undue sanction. Posted by Paul Hsieh on 9 August 2004.

Unnecessary Evidence – An announcement of my basic moral evaluation of Nathaniel and Barbara Branden, precipitated by Nathaniel's dishonest games in my blog comments. Posted on 10 August 2004.

Rumor and Supposition – An explanation of my early history with Objectivism and the Kelley-Peikoff split, with some clarifications about my reasons for condemning the Brandens. Posted on 14 August 2004.

Who Knew? – Further comments on my condemnation of the Brandens and on various people's responses to my changes in views. Posted on 18 August 2004.

The State of ARI – A comparison of the impressive successes of the Ayn Rand Institute with the longstanding failures of The Objectivist Center. Posted on 22 September 2004.

The Appeasement Center – A critical analysis of the altruism of Ed Hudgins' Christmas op-ed. Posted on 9 January 2005.

Redesigned Web Site – An announcement about this web site, including some comments on the status of work done during my years of association with TOC. Posted on 24 January 2005.

Tall Tales – A discussion of the importance of gathering first-hand data on the Ayn Rand Institute in response to Tom Blackstone's positive report on a speech by Yaron Brook. Posted on 21 March 2005.

Celebrating Ayn Rand – A dissection of Ed Hudgins' strange op-ed on the Ayn Rand centenary. Posted on 23 March 2005.

Compare and Contrast, Take Two – A comparison of the strong stance of ARI scholars on the Terri Schiavo case to the tepid remarks of TOC Executive Director Ed Hudgins. Posted on 3 April 2005.

The Routledge Monstrosity – An examination of TOC's unjust and dishonest 1998 review of the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy's entry on Ayn Rand. Posted on 11 April 2005.

Hammering on the Libertarians – A post on the positive impact of the serious intellectual climate of Front Range Objectivism, particularly in helping participants work through long-held errors like libertarianism et al. Posted on 22 May 22.

The Ideas of Ayn Rand – A discussion of Ron Merrill's uncritical acceptance of Barbara Branden's biography in his book The Ideas of Ayn Rand. Posted on June 12 2005.

The Ideas of Ayn Rand, Take Two – A post on the inadequacy of Ron Merrill's attempt to show that Ayn Rand was once a Nietzchean in The Ideas of Ayn Rand. Posted on June 13 2005.

Lifting Burdens – A few comments on Julian Sanchez's libertarian criticisms of Paul's "Fable of the Cardiac Surgeon." Posted on 7 July 2005.

Brothers, You Asked For It! – An essay on the multitude of clues left by Nathaniel Branden over the years about his now-open embrace of mysticism, including its implications for his association with TOC. Posted on 20 July 2005.

Blizzard Warning – An announcement about my plans to finish up my commentaries on the various false friends of Objectivism with a flurry of commentaries. Posted on 22 July 2005.

More Than Tepid and Ambiguous – An analysis of Ed Hudgins' deeply confused op-ed on the "Koran abuse" scandal. Posted on 22 July 2005.

The Downward Spiral – Some comments on TOC's change in leadership from David Kelley to Ed Hudgins and its move from Poughkeepsie, NY to Washington, DC. Posted on 25 July 2005.

Ayn Rand on David Kelley – An examination of David Kelley's attempted justification of his "open system" vision of Objectivism. Posted on 27 July 2005.

Ayn Rand at the Ford Hall Forum – Some comments on the value of listening to Ayn Rand's Ford Hall Forum Lectures, particularly the Q&A sessions. Posted on 28 July 2005.

Acorns from the Oak Tree – Brief comments on three supposed friends of Objectivism: transhumanism, extropianian, or libertarianism, in reply to a post on the "Oak Tree" blog. Posted on 1 August 2005.

Nathaniel Branden Versus Objectivism – A dissection of some of Nathaniel Branden's attempted criticisms of Objectivism from a recent interview. Posted on 2 August 2005.

Stinky Garbage on Honesty – Criticism of a bizarre article on honestly published in TOC's magazine, The New Individualist. Posted on 5 August 2005.

Stinky Garbage on Islam – A discussion of David Kelley's subjectivist sanction of Islam in a speech on terrorism, including its relationship to his earlier sanction of the subjectivism underlying the libertarian movement in speaking to the Laissez Faire Supper Club. Posted on 8 August 2005.

More on Sanction in Speaking – Some insightful comments and questions from Ari Armstrong about sanction in speaking. Posted on 11 August 2005.

Libertarian Activism: No Parody Required – An interesting example of the subjectivism of libertarian activism from Ari Armstrong. Posted on 16 August 2005.

The Delights of The Art of Fiction – A quick plug for the delightful book The Art of Fiction, then more lengthy comments on the review published by The Objectivist Center. Posted on 18 August 2005.

Nathaniel Branden's Campaign Against Objective Moral Judgment – A lengthy discussion of the Objectivist virtue of justice, as well as Nathaniel Branden's utter rejection of it. Posted on 21 August 2005.

Moral Foundations of Modern Libertarianism – An examination of the explicit subjectivism of Randy Barnett's scholarly defense of libertarianism. Posted by Paul Hsieh on 23 August 2005.

Implicit Vs. Explicit Philosophy: Schwartz on Von Mises – Some comments on the important distinction between implicit and explicit philosophy discussed by Peter Schwartz in his "Contextual Knowledge" lecture. Posted by Paul Hsieh on 27 August 2005.

Noodly Round Up – A blog entry including some comments on libertarian animal rights, as well as an article on SOLO responding to my post on Nathaniel Branden's Campaign Against Objective Moral Judgment without ever daring to acknowledge it. Posted on 27 August 2005.

Another Departure – Some comments on my friend Greg Perkins' public announcement of his decision to abandon The Objectivist Center. Posted on 2 September 2005.

Is Ayn Rand Optional? – Blog entry on the error of denying any concern for Ayn Rand as a person. Posted by Don Watkins on 12 October 2005.

The Demise of SoloHQ – Some comments on the demise of SoloHQ. Posted on 30 November 2006.

Flattering Terrorists – A critical look at a TOC op-ed connecting modern Islam with the ancient Greek culture of the Trojan War. Posted on 6 December 2006.

Judgment, Facts, and Values – Some comments on the nature of moral judgment, including why people so misunderstand Leonard Peikoff's "Fact and Value." Posted on 9 December 2005.

The Open System, One More Time – A blog post on why the integration inherent in a philosophic system necessitates a rejection of David Kelley's "open system" approach to Objectivism. Posted on 12 December 2005.

Libertarian Detection – A report on a one-day conference put on by the libertarian Foundation for Economic Education, including the attempt to ground libertarianism in Christianity. Posted on 18 December 2005.

TOC Donor Dollars at Work – A short post on the inanity of a TOC op-ed reviewing the movie Kong. Posted on 23 December 2005.

Axiomatic Interview with Diana Hsieh – My interview with Axiomatic Magazine. Posted on 1 January 2006.

A Review of The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics – A report on some of the responses to James Valliant's The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics, including evasions from the TOC leadership. Posted on 20 January 2006.

Interviews with the Vampires – A report on Nathaniel and Barbara Branden's responses to James Valliant's The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics. Posted on 22 January 2006.

Objectivist Hell – A brief comment on TOC's silence on the Muslim jihad against the Danish cartoonists, plus some further comments on David Kelley's bizarre friendliness to Islam. Posted on 12 February 2006.

Credit Where Credit Is Due – A brief comment on Lindsay Perigo's unexpectedly positive review of James Valliant's The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics. Posted on 16 February 2006.

The Face of Unreason – A brief comment on TOC supporter Phil Coates' call for militant tolerance of evil. Posted on 17 February 2006.

David Kelley Versus Ayn Rand on Kant – A discussion of why David Kelley's views on moral judgment are wholly incompatible with Ayn Rand's condemnation of Kant as "the most evil man in history." Posted on 19 February 2006.

Kant as Destroyer – A follow-up post on David Kelley versus Ayn Rand on the moral judgment of Kant. Posted on 21 February 2006.

Idle Threats – A post on TOC editor Robert Bidinotto's ludicrous personal insults of me, not just in lieu of any argument but also without daring to mention me by name. Posted on 22 February 2006.

It Takes a Moral Mess to Know a Moral Mess – A brief note of TOC's long-overdue (and very bad) op-ed on the Muslim jihad against the Danish cartoonists. Posted on 9 March 2006.

On Writing Softly – A brief discussion of the all-important difference between writing with a gentle tone and intellectual appeasement. Posted on 10 March 2006.

David Kelley's Mind-Body Dichotomy in Moral Judgment – A lengthy essay on the mind-body dichotomy implicit in David Kelley's discussion of moral judgment in Truth and Toleration. Posted on 17 March 2006.

My History with Nathaniel and Barbara Branden – An account of my personal history with Nathaniel and Barbara Branden, including their involvement with TOC. Posted on 22 March 2006.

Marxist Dictators Versus Marxist Intellectuals – A quick survey of the relative evils of Marxist dictators versus Marxist intellectuals. Posted on 25 March 2006.

Posting on SoloPassion – A quick announcement of my participation in various discussion threads on SoloPassion mostly related to the many false friends of Objectivism. Posted on 26 March 2006.

Bill Perry's "Retirement" from TOC – Bill Perry leaves The Objectivist Center -- for good reasons. Posted on 2 April 2006.

Judging Things by Their Covers – Ed Hudgins' article on the Danish Cartoons is a tepid mess, despite the promising cover. Posted by Greg Perkins on 5 April 2006.

Tolerance in Action – Two recent examples of TOC's refusal to condemn anything but intolerance express a consistent policy. Posted on 6 April 2006.

The Small Guns – Ed Hudgins' attempt to defend David Kelley's disastrous approach to Islam is inadequate, to say the least. Posted on 9 April 2006.

The Downward Spiral – The web site of The Objectivist Center is chock full of errors, but the program for their 2006 Summer Seminar is an even greater disaster. Posted on 11 April 2006.

Dialectical Dishonesty – A lengthy analysis of the many lies, distortions, and manipulations of my former friend, Chris Sciabarra. Posted on 25 April 2006.

Ed Hudgins Does Stand-Up Comedy – The Objectivist Center changes its name for the second time in two decades. Posted on 8 May 2006.

A Nonpartisan Farce – Chris Sciabarra's Journal of Ayn Rand Studies is not a non-partisan journal, as it claims to be. Instead, it's actively biased against scholars associated with the Ayn Rand Institute. Posted on 16 June 2006.

Aristotle on Diviners – Aristotle observed that diviners like to use ambiguities in order to pretend to say something significant. Chris Sciabarra uses that same disreputable method in his academic work. Posted on 24 June 2006.

Village Objectivist – An analysis of the standard smears of Objectivists as "Randroids" and the like. Posted on 28 June 2006.

A Final Request – A request for comments on Jim Valliant's The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics. Posted on 6 July 2006.

The Ayn Rand Archive – The common criticisms of the Ayn Rand archives are shown to be wrong. Posted on 3 September 2006.

Ted Haggard and Nathaniel Branden – The psychology of disgraced lying pastor Ted Haggard seems similar to that of disgraced lying Objectivist Nathaniel Branden. Posted on 26 March 2007.

For more recent commentaries on these and related issues, see the NoodleFood posts tagged with False Friends of Objectivism, Libertarianism, McCaskey Resignation, or Objectivist Movement.

Some Background Documents

Yet Another Heretic is Created – MDOP post explaining my basic initial reasons for choosing David Kelley's side in his philosophic dispute with Leonard Peikoff. Posted on 17 February 1994.

Impending Cuts to TOC Student and Scholarly Programs – Blog entry offering a first glimpse of my unhappiness with The Objectivist Center. Posted on 12 December 2002.

Interesting Changes at TOC – Blog entry noting TOC's seeming lack of direction. Posted on 20 May 2003.

Just An Announcement – Blog entry briefly noting my stepping down as Nathaniel Branden's webmaster. Posted on 30 January 2004.